It's time for.... the 2024 10m Challenge. (Part 5)

Continuing the discussion from It's time for.... the 2024 10m Challenge. (Part 4) - #100 by JP3PPL.

Previous discussions:

That’s sad to hear. I think I met him once and thought he was a really nice guy.

Last time I was greeted by a curious herd of bulls:


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Its not that bad. Its an easy walk. Its now even easier to park now some new tarmac has been added to the road to the transmitter site to create a layby (3 cars can easily park), so no need to see if there’s room by the golf course. This cuts the walk down slightly, however I found it to be more muddy.

As for operating, you don’t even have to guy the mast. At a point by the trig, the fence has rolled over and you can slot a pole through easily. Its easy to use the building(?) on the summit to shelter from any wind.

The only real downside is on VHF where the nearby transmitters can cause issues, but recently I’ve had no issues (so long as I dont try with the Quansheng :slight_smile: ). But without the interference the coverage on VHF is quite impressive considering its height.

If you want to avoid any crowds, then go to the trig point, turn right and head down slightly till you come to the end of the fence, then you can double back and find a spot just below the trig, but on the other side of the fence to normal.

Ian

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For those that haven’t taken the 10m plunge yet…

I have a 250mW Zachtec WSPR transmitter running. It is connected directly to a £10 27MHz (CB) loaded whip. The entire set up is inside my stone walled bothy.

So, what’s stopping you? Even a 40,20,15,10 EFHW or a random wire will get you contacts.

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I made my second foray into the Challenge – as an activator – from Flattop Mountain, W4V/SH-010, on Saturday. The chasing has been so good lately, why bother?

The juice ended up worth the squeeze, however.

The haul on 10 m ended up at 26 QSOs in EU and western NA, Texas being the shortest hop. Three S2S on 10 m, all in California.

Signals from EU were good considering my location at the far western edge of the activation zone – the only publicly accessible spot – with higher ground toward the NE. Some opportunities for S2S with EU were missed owing to my late start (QRV at 1645 UTC).

Apart from a couple contacts on the 2 m HT, it was all CW at 5 W from a Xiegu X5105 to an end-fed wire via internal ATU. The wire is, by design, a half-wave on 40 m and hence a high impedance on that and other bands. I’ve found the internal tuner in the X5105 does a good job matching it with no need for a transformer.

My operating site was not particularly scenic:

However, on the way down I made a short detour to a rocky precipice which forced a bit of a break in the woods:

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Antenna dilemma

On my drive home from Scotland tomorrow I want to activate G/LD-037 on 30m (my favourite band) and 10m (for the challenge). My LNR 40/30/20 and 40/20/10 EFHWs have good performance on 30m and 10m respectively but have VSWR > 1:10 vice versa. I don’t want to take and setup both antennas as that summit has no shelter and ‘feels like’ temperature will be below freezing.

So for a quick setup I’m dusting off my Chameleon MPAS Lite. It’s best on 20m to 15m with help from the KX2 internal ATU. I’ve not tried it on 10m so it will be interesting to compare reports given and received with the 10m activations I’ve done recently with the EFHW inverted L.

POST ACTIVATION UPDATE …

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A gig in Barry, South Wales on Saturday 10th February 2024 had “Road Trip” written all over it. Especially once I found an affordable twin room in a theatre digs in Cardiff, available for the Friday and Saturday nights.

The journey down on Friday 9th February 2024 was tedious with jams at Stoke-on-Trent, Stafford, Walsall and Birmingham, followed by several road closures due to flooding and accidents in Gloucestershire and South Wales. We’d hoped to include three trivial summits on the drive south but the painfully slow progress limited us to just two.

Cleeve Hill G/CE-001

Despite being able to drive right up into the AZ, I still got soaked to the skin while bagging my activation! Met a couple who asked me what I was doing. After telling them, they replied “Oh we’ve got a friend in South Wales - Kevin - who does something like that”. They were stunned when I said “Yes he’s a friend of mine”. And even more so when I proved it by showing them a photo of Kevin and me at Gaulfest six weeks earlier!

10m CW: 7 QSOs.

S2S: M5OTA/P on May Hill G/WB-019

Ruardean Hill G/WB-021

Another drive-to-the-top. Another soaking in constant fine drizzle! Set up beside Pantod Beacon.

10m CW: 6 QSOs

S2S: WB2FUV on W2/EH-003

We then headed for the theatre digs in Cardiff. A big old house run by very friendly ex-theatre managers. We settled in for the night and watched, somewhat ironically, “After The Flood” on ITV!

On the morning of Saturday 10th February 2024, Liam elected to remain in bed for a lie-in while I went out activating. The weather was now much improved.

Wentwood GW/SW-033

I’d intended this one for the journey down on Friday, but it was still viable enough to append to the Saturday morning plans. It’s yet another where the car park is in the AZ, so it would now be three activations and hardly any exercise!

10m CW: 2 QSOs
10m SSB: 2 QSOs

S2S: 2W0WTS/P on Mynydd Carn-y-cefn GW/SW-014

It was arguably too early for 10m before 0900 - it took me over 30 minutes to collect the requisite four QSOs - and three of those were groundwave to local G/GW stations! Remarkably, the other contact was a cracker - 5R8IC - an IOTA expedition on Sainte Marie Island AF-090, off the north-east coast of Madagascar.

Mynydd y Lan GW/SW-024

Next to another easy summit. I parked by the wide track entrance and walked up the track into the AZ. I set up beside the track ahead of the transmitter masts - around 10m lower than the summit true, which would have been a kilometer or so further to walk across a very wide plateau.

10m CW: 4 QSOs

I was ahead of schedule and realised I could squeeze in another SOTA before soundcheck. I phoned Liam to see if he wanted to join me, but he declined saying he was enjoying his lie-in and was going to take his time getting ready to go out later.

Garth Hill GW/SW-034

I parked in the small layby by the start of the lane (no vehicles allowed) towards the summit, which becomes a trodden path along the shoulder of the hill. Finally a swing left directly up the grassy slopes towards the trig-topped summit.

10m CW: 4 QSOs
10m SSB: 2 QSOs
2m FM: 1 QSO

S2S: SV2RUJ/P on SV/ST-023

The rest of the day was taken up by work - an afternoon soundcheck and evening gig in Barry. After soundcheck, Liam and I nipped out for some chilli and nachos in the pub opposite the funfair. The atmosphere in there was somewhat muted with England seeing out a narrow win over Wales in the Rugby Union Six Nations. We tried to remain low-key! After the gig, we were back at the digs for Match of the Day, and then a very deep ten hours sleep!

We left the digs on Sunday 11th February 2024 and headed the short distance north to another summit in the Cardiff vicinity.

Craig yr Ally GW/SW-037

I’d completely forgotten what a lovely little ridge walk this was, so was really glad to rediscover it.

10m SSB: 4 QSOs
10m CW: 8 QSOs

S2S: MW0GQC/P on GW/SW-008

Mynydd Machen GW/SW-030

We walked up the initially concrete, and then stony access track to the radio station at the summit. We set up in some slight shelter on the other side of the trig point.

10m CW: 10 QSOs
10m SSB: 8 QSOs

Next stop was Newbridge where we found a pub serving enormous carvery Sunday dinners. We very much enjoyed this while watching the Ireland - Italy rugby match on the big screen.

GW/SW-020 Graig Syfyrddin (formerly Edmund’s Tump)

We parked opposite the entrance to the driveway up to Dawn of the Day Cottage. We walked up the PROW in the muddy adjacent field, and then continued past the large trees up to the repeater station and trig point at the summit. Dusk happened very quickly, so it was now lights on!

10m CW: 3 QSOs
10m SSB: 3 QSOs

Liam advised that he did not want to be home before 10pm, as he would be too tempted to stay up all night watching catch-up TV. The satnav was estimating 9pm at this point. Therefore…

Hegdon Hill G/WB-023

Another drive-to-the-top and a rather shameless set up on the grass verge around ten feet from the car! The problem though was that it was too late - the 10m band had closed. Well, I could still hear stuff on the FT8 and FT4 frequencies - but that stuff couldn’t hear me!

I managed a 2m FM contact, so at least an activation had taken place. That’s when I placed an appeal on SOTAwatch for local groundwave attempts on 10m to save the Challenge multiplier! Thankfully, three chasers answered that call for assistance - thank you!

2m FM: 2 QSOs
10m SSB: 3 QSOs

Excellent road trip with Liam - and we’re off on another one on Sunday - yay!

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I took a tarp today which allowed me to be QRV much longer on shelter-less G/LD-047 than I can be otherwise. The only drawback was the noise it made when the wind picked up making the weaker N/A stations hard to hear.


(c) Google Earth 2024, radio paths courtesy www.adif.uk
I got 14 10m CW contacts in 18 minutes, 9 USA, 1 Canada, 3 Greece, 1 UKraine.

With sunset (and MUF < 28MHz) pushing back with every week I could activate an hour or so later in the afternoon [1459-1518 utc on 10m today] than I did at the start of the year. So I’m catching more of the N/A early-riser chasers and still getting off the hill before it gets dark.

I had a long run on 30m beforehand which previously meant I had cold fingers before starting 10m.The tarp (and the milder weather today) helped avoid that.

Thanks again to chasers for being patient (in the pile-ups) and matching my sending speed.

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(C) Google Earth 2024, radio paths courtesy www.adif.uk

What a great dx band 10m is: from Arizona to Canary Islands to Greece and Ukraine, all within a 10-minute stint this afternoon on G/LD-053 with 10W CW to a quarter-wave vertical.

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If anyone wants to give 10mFM a try for the challenge, I’ll be using that on three summits Feb 24th starting around 2pmGMT. I’ll be on either 29.600 or 29.605 and will spot myself ahead of time. I’m running about 20w into an EFHW.

Chris

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Hi Chris, how about a transatlantic S2S 10m FM QSO?

I’ve never used FM mode on HF before not alone try for a T/A dx contact. I’ve had so much success in recent months working US and Canada with 10W of CW, it’s worth a harder challenge. No idea if it will work.

I’ll go to my nearest SOTA summit G/LD-058 with my shack rig (FT857), ATU & big battery and try to be QRV around 1400utc with 30-50W FM into the same antenna, Cha MPAS Lite vertical.

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Sounds like a plan! I was out last weekend doing a few summits nearby and had a pipeline into the UK region on 10mSSB with less than 10w, so hopefully 20w on 10mFM will work. :slight_smile:

Expect us on the first summit sometime around 2pmGM, maybe a skosh later if we move slow. :smiley:

Chris

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TNX @G8CPZ Andy and @MW0PJE Pete for the 10m FM QSOs, brilliant!

@KI4POT Chris I listened for you today on 10m FM but no luck, probably to close for the condx. Hope you had some good success.

Vy 73 de Jonathan “JB”

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NP. I wasn’t on 10mFM all that much today. I managed 4 contacts at the first summit, including 2 DX, but on the 2nd summit, I was stuggling to get a spot out and when I finally got one out for 29.605, a strong station popped up on 29.600 and obliterated .605 as well just after I made 1 contact via ground wave in VA. I moved to .610, but since I couldn’t spot, I got no replies.

When we got to the 3rd summit, it was snowing, so we knocked it out real quick on 2mFM and called it a day.

Chris

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Dx using 10m FM

Well, my first use of FM on HF was interesting.

I got 7 10m FM contacts, 4 USA (including JB @KC1MXB and Matt @W4GO who I’ve worked recently on CW), 1 Ukraine, 1 Greece and 1 local (@M0NOM/P) about 15 miles away on another hill.

Chris, @KI4POT I saw your SOTA spot but could not make out the station on 29.605.

10m FM was much harder work than with CW which I’ve used on 8 previous 10m activations so far this year. Apart from having to lug a 10kg rucksack (with heavy FT857, LDG ATU & big battery) up the hill instead of my usual KX2/int ATU, 10m FM seems a bit of a bear pit.

Most of the simplex activity seems to happen on just a few channels, the calling frequency 29.600 itself or +5/-10 kHz often with several QSOs on the same frequency. I even found someone trying to work my chasers on “my” frequency, not something I’ve experienced with CW activations. I suspect not a SOTA chap.

I did a bit of 10m SSB afterwards and listened to the SSB contest on 10m and it’s interesting to contrast FM vs SSB for 10m dx. When the FM station is strong (like the repeater on 29.620) it’s fine but otherwise most FM signals were noisy [with my squelch set low] compared to the SSB stations (even weak ones due to the S0 noise on 10m SSB).

Also, even gentle QSB seems to affect FM signals. Often, one over was fully readable but the next one scratchy and hard to copy. That wasn’t a problem with any 10m SSB even the weak ones.

Anyway, that was my limited experience of HF FM. Interesting but I doubt I’ll be bothering again any time soon.

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Christos SV2OXS has worked me more than once on 10m FM during the 2024 SOTA Challenge. Best contact on 10m FM this year so far has been KC1NDQ from MA.

Yup, agree with everything you said. 10mFM is definitely not a weak signal mode. It was fun to finally “prove” my little Anytone Smart 10m rig in the field, but it won’t be my tool of choice, more of a fun diversion from time to time.

SSB is much more enjoyable. :slight_smile:

Chris

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I thought it was just me… had the same thing yesterday.
I jumped down to 29.400, much quieter. I usually go down to one onf the region 1 simplex channels but these are quite a way from the calling channel.

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I just had my first ever 10m FM contact.

Southern California to Italy (and back).

Wow.

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Not bad today apart from the new deer fences everywhere and having to find where the stiles were. No wind in the car park and blowing a gale on the top which finally chilled me enough to stop earlier than I intended. But FG, 2xZS, ZB2, were all new ones for 10m. I never tried 10FM. I might get out tomorrow if the WX is OK. Oh and a YB2 on 20m who could hear me but couldn’t understand what an MS0 prefix was so that one escaped.

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